School Districts in the Brazos Valley each have their own approach to operating in the new normal

Local school superintendents have had to change how their schools operate due to the pandemic- adapting to new guidelines and protocols.
Published: Sep. 1, 2020 at 2:07 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2020 at 5:15 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) -Local school superintendents have had to change how their schools operate during the pandemic, and now with school back in session, each district has taken its own approach to operations.

Local superintendents have used the past few months preparing their districts to welcome kids back to school whether that’s remotely or in person.

“We of course had some experimentation with distance learning or online learning in the spring, and that helped us work some kinks out,” said Scott Sheppard Huntsville ISD Superintendent. “We’ve done a lot of staff training to prepare our staff to offer all three models.”

“We have different things we have placed in our classrooms,” said Keith Smith, Madisonville CISD Superintendent. “For instance, we have put HEPA filters, in our HVAC systems. We have put ion air purifiers in all of our rooms.”

“We put together a task force where we utilized some parents, students, and teachers to create our entry plan to ensure everyone is safe,” said Thyrun Hurst, Calvert ISD Superintendent.

Ensuring safety is one of the most important priorities of superintendents during the pandemic.

“We know that you are giving us your most prized possession,” said Tylor Chaplin, Brenham ISD Superintendent. “We are going to protect them and at the same time we are going to challenge them and push them in their thought processes.”

“We’ve implemented an Early Dismissals Wednesday,” said Christie Whitbeck, Bryan ISD Superintendent. “And that time is very critical because it is going to allow us to do some additional cleaning at the campuses in the middle of the week. And then it will also allow our teachers to have an opportunity to do intense planning.”

“We have gathered emailed addresses of every parent and when there is a confirmed case of COVID or even a strong suspected one, emails will be sent out immediately,” said Andrew Peters Caldwell ISD Superintendent. Those rooms will be cleaned that evening.”

In efforts to keep students and faculty safe, superintendents are adapting how their schools operate.

“At the end of the year, we began handing out devices for our students to use,” said Adrain Johnson Hearne ISD Superintendent. “Because of the support of the board and our local community, the Hearne city has helped us purchase additional Ipads, chrome books, and hot spot devices for our students.”

“It changed their daily schedule that they had to follow every day as well as trying to cut our numbers in half in our cafeteria at any given time,” said Stu Musick Navasota ISD Superintendent.

“If kids need extra help or they are at home receiving at-home instruction,” said Karla Sparks Somerville ISD Superintendent. “We will open our doors Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and we will have a few teachers here every Saturday to provide help.”

Even with extra assistance, technology, and plans in place, that doesn’t mean local superintendents aren’t still uneasy about going to school during a global pandemic.

“I would not be telling the truth if I’m not saying we are nervous obviously just because of the unknowns that are out there,” said Scott Beene, Anderson-Shiro CISD Superintendent.

“You know the beginning of any school year, there’s always things that keep you up at night,” said Mike Martindale, College Station ISD Superintendent. “I think the things that for me, is what have we not thought of? We understand we’ll make mistakes and we’ll pivot and adjust for those and we’ll do it together.”

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